National convention

Jack and Jill of America, Inc. held the 45th National Convention July 26-31 in Orlando, Florida

Jack and Jill’s moms attend the 45th National Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Convention. Left to Right: Tara Aikens, Chapter President; Rachelle Grégory, member; Shirley Barber James, former National President (15th); & MarRonde Lumpkin-Lodson, Chapter Vice President

Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, the first African-American family organization, held its 45th national convention July 26-31 in Orlando, Florida with the theme “The Power of a Dream!” Savannah Chapter President Tara Aikens and Savannah’s mothers, Chapter Vice President MarRonde Lumpkin-Lotson and Member Rachelle James Gregory were in attendance, along with Savannah Tribune Editor Shirley Barber James. (Savannah Chapter associate) who served as the 15th National President (1994-96).

The 2022 National Convention exemplified the power of dreams and the importance of helping children dream by featuring an interactive gallery of notable Jack and Jill of America alumni in entertainment, business, government, education, media, technology and social justice, among others. Industries. Some of these accomplished men and women received special recognition at the closing gala of the convention. Robert E. James, II, President and CEO of Carver Financial Corporation, was named to the Jack and Jill Alumni Legacy Wall of Honor in the business category for his roles as Chairman of the National Bankers Association, Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council and FDIC Advisory Council Committee on Community Banks. A former Jack of the Savannah Chapter, he served as the Southeast Teen Regional President from 1988-1990.

JJ Legacy Wall of Honor features Robert James, II (2nd middle row).  Standing: Sister, Savannah Mom Rachelle J. Gregory & Father, Robert E. James
JJ Legacy Wall of Honor features Robert James, II (2nd middle row). Standing: Sister, Savannah Mom Rachelle J. Gregory & Father, Robert E. James

Philanthropist Susan L. Taylor was inducted as the organization’s second honorary member after Marian Wright Edelman, founder and chair emeritus of the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman was inducted in 1996 under the presidency of the 15th National President, Shirley Barber James. Taylor has been recognized for her contributions to advancing the African American community as former editor of Essence (essence.com/about) and her commitment to improving the lives of children as founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org )—a national leader in recruiting, training, and engaging Black mentors. In honor of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Jack and Jill of America, in conjunction with Disney on the Yard, hosted “Homecoming Night.” Disney on the Yard is dedicated to building a community for HBCU alumni and providing meaningful opportunities for HBCU students. On “Homecoming Night,” JJ Families wore college paraphernalia of their choosing. Drum Major Mickey and bands from local high schools performed, including Jones High, Orlando’s first public school for African Americans, established in 1895.

National Convention performers and special guests included award-winning singer-songwriter Ne-Yo, Doug E Fresh, Bishop Paul S. Morton, gospel artist Dorinda Clark-Cole, DJ Vince Adams and the musicians Gritz and Jelly Butter. There were also forums centered on health, wealth and black women in Fortune 500 executive leadership. Robert E. James, 50, president and CEO of Carver State Bank of Savannah, 97 years, participated in the Wealth Panel sharing his years of experience working with Black owned and operated banks who must constantly overcome the challenges and disparities encountered when meeting the financial needs of minority communities. The health forum addressed inequities in the health system and improving health care support for people and communities of color.

Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated announced community service partnerships with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Inc., and Be the Match, a JJ Save a Life donor campaign. Former Jill and former student of the Savannah chapter, Camille James Gregory, now a member of the San Jose (CA) chapter of Jack and Jill, was introduced as a bone marrow donor for Be The Match due to her recent donation as a match for a recipient of sickle cell disease. Other community partnerships include The March of Dimes, American Heart Association, AARP, Ready Life and UNICEF.

National Jack and Jill of America conventions are biannual and held every two years. The organization’s previous national convention in 2020 was entirely virtual to safely unite families and adhere to federal and state guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 National Convention was held in person with a virtual attendance option.

Kornisha Mc-Gill Brown, 27th National President of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, of the Columbus (GA) Southeast Region Chapter, was overwhelmingly elected to a second term as National President (2022- 2024). She said: “We were so grateful for this opportunity to reunite our Jack and Jill families in person again after the impact and physical separation caused by the pandemic.” Jack and Jill’s mothers with their families from across the country came together to do Jack and Jill’s business, share successes and celebrate “The Power of a Dream – On a Mission, by Purpose – For All Children “.